December 24, 1850

in Thoreau’s Journal:

In walking across the Great Meadows to-day on the snow-crust, I noticed that the fine, dry snow which was blown over the surface of the frozen field, when I looked westward over it or toward the sun, looked precisely like steam curling up from its surface, as sometimes from a wet roof when the sun comes out after a rain.

The snow catches only in the hollows and against the reeds and grass, and never rests there, but when it has formed a broad and shallow drift or a long and narrow one like a winrow on the ice, it blows away again from one extremity, and leaves often a thin, tongue-like projection at one end, some inches above the firm crust.

I observe that there are many dead pine-needles sprinkled over the snow, which had not fallen before. Saw a shrike pecking to pieces a small bird, apparently a snowbird. At length he took him up in his bill, almost half as big as himself, and flew slowly off with his prey dangling from his beak. I find that I had not associated such actions with my idea of birds. It was not birdlike.

It is never so cold but it melts somewhere. Our mason well remarked that he had sometimes known it to be melting and freezing at the same time on a particular side of a house; while it was melting on the roof the icicles [were] forming under the eaves. It is always melting and freezing at the same time when icicles are formed.

Our thoughts are with those among the dead into whose sphere we are rising, or who are now rising into our own. Others we inevitably forget, though they be brothers and sisters.

Thus the departed may be nearer to us than when they were present. At death our friends and relations either draw nearer to us and are found out, or depart further from us and are forgotten. Friends are as often brought nearer together as separated by death.